Victims’ tears as ex-coach guilty of child sex abuse
Former football coach Barry Bennell has been convicted of a string of child sex offences.
The serial paedophile was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court of 36 charges, including rape and indecent assault of young boys.
Some of his victims broke down in tears when the verdicts were delivered, while Bennell stared at the floor as he appeared via prison video link due to ill health.
The jury will resume their deliberations on seven remaining charges on Wednesday morning.
Bennell, who scouted for Manchester City and coached at Crewe Alexandra, denied a total 48 sexual offences against 11 schoolboy footballers between 1979 and 1991.
The 64-year-old was described by prosecutors as a "child molester on an industrial scale" who would not just groom his victims, but also their families.
Victims who had been coached by Bennell as boys told how he had a "power hold" over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.
He was said to have been treated like "God" at Manchester City's former ground, Maine Road.
Bennell was compared to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as he invited boys to his house where he had arcade games, a pool table, videos and exotic pets including a puma and a monkey.
One victim, who he had admitted abusing in 1998, said he knew of four men who had been coached by Bennell, including former Wales manager Gary Speed, who had gone on to take their own lives.
The jury was told there was no evidence to link the deaths to Bennell.
Bennell, who had previously received three jail sentences for abusing boys, declined to give evidence in his own defence in the trial.
The court heard transcripts of police interviews in which he admitted having a "grooming process" and being attracted to teenage boys.
But he denied the latest allegations and said his accusers were "jumping on the bandwagon" following publicity.
His barrister, Eleanor Laws QC, described him as being a "sitting target" after being convicted of child sexual abuse in the 1990s and in 2015.
"The defendant is a known target and he coached these boys," Ms Laws said.
"They know when making allegations, whether truthful or not, that they are making allegations against a convicted paedophile."
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Jurors were directed to return not guilty verdicts on three indecent assault counts.
They will resume their deliberations on the remaining seven charges at 10.15am on Wednesday.